MAMOSA Report, Nov 20 – The trial of former president General (retd.) Pervez Musharraf under Article 6 of the Constitution for imposition of emergency rule on Nov 3, 2007 could thwart future attempts to topple elected governments, prominent legal and political experts agreed on Tuesday.
These views were expressed by guest panelists while speaking in SAMAA’s current affairs program, Nadeem Malik Live.
Veteran law expert and former federal minister Khalid Anwar said that 12 Oct 1999 coup was validated in 17th Amendment so it was a good step to focus just on Nov 3 emergency.
The senior lawyer said that apparently this case was pre-decided as the Supreme Court had already declared Nov 3 emergency as an act of treason.
“In my opinion, it will be difficult for judges of high courts to overrule the apex court’s verdict,” Khalid Anwar maintained.
The army, he said, had no right to overthrow an elected government and take extra-constitutional steps.
Noted lawyer Salman Akram Raja said that it was government’s prerogative to put Musharraf on trial for his Nov 3 actions. “It is easy for the government to get a conviction for Nov 3 actions,” he opined.
Responding to a question, Raja said that he was not hopeful that Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) would investigate Asghar Khan case ruling on ISI funding of rival political parties against PPP in 1990 polls.
Former Sindh governor Let-Gen (retd.) Moinuddin Haider said that Article 6 was being invoked so that army could be discouraged from overthrow of civilian governments in future. Musahrraf could get life imprisonment or death sentence, he said, adding that there was another option to commute his sentence by the president at prime minister’s advice.
PML-Z leader Ejaz ul Haq said that the matter would be raised during the trial that why N government did not file a case for Oct 12 actions. “But we will have to think whether we are heading towards confrontation with any state institution,” Haq said.
To a question, he said that parliament will have to validate any sentence handed out to Musharraf.
‘Treason trial to stop Musharraf from fleeing country’
Meanwhile, talking about the timing of moving the court against former president Pervez Musharraf for treason, Federal Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid on Tuesday said had the government not moved the court, Musharraf would have fled from the country.
However, critics are opposing the move, saying that it was aimed at shifting media focus from Rawalpindi violence. Others argue that why the general was not being tried for overthrowing Nawaz Sharif’s government on October 12, 1999.
“Since Musharraf has been released on bail in all four cases, we could not have been able to resist his plea to remove his name from the Exit Control List. So the government decided to move with his trial (under high treason),” the minister told reporters at a seminar about the right to information law.
To a question, he said initially it was a perception that Musharraf would not be arrested, but the government arrested him. He said rumours were also floating in the air that the general would not be put under trial. Rashid said the government proved all wrong and wrote a letter to the chief justice of Pakistan to form a commission, adding that had the government not written the letter to the Chief Justice, Musharraf might have left the country and people would have started blaming it for his escape.
Musharraf treason trial: not-so-brilliant diversion
Renowned columnist Ayaz Amir in his most recent article thinks the treason trial move was a diversionary tactic adopted by Ch Nisar to mask Rawalpindi mishandling, specially with the Prime Minister abroad.
Additionally, Amir observes that Musharraf’s bigger sin was October 1999 coup not the Mov 3, 2007 emergency.
“So focused are we on November 3, 2007 that it almost seems as if the Musharraf era began on that date and not eight years before, on Oct 12, 1999″, he writes.
According to him, “November 3 was a minor affair compared to the original sin of 1999 but the government doesn’t want to talk about it, the judiciary doesn’t want to talk about it, because the original sin was validated by the Supreme Court in 2000, in the so-called Zafar Ali Shah case.
Irshad Hasan Khan was CJ, and on the bench, among others, sat My Lord Iftikhar Chaudhry. Not only did the SC give Musharraf’s action a clean chit it also empowered him to amend the constitution. This means the army and the judiciary were hand-in-glove, which has been the regular pattern of all our coups, Ayub Khan onwards.
We cannot run away from our past, but shouldn’t a recognition of the past inculcate in us some modesty and humility? If we ourselves have sinned should we not pause a bit before casting stones at others?
“Mein ne majnoon pe larak mein Asad, sang uthaya toh sar yaad aaya.” Kuch Ghalib se hee seekh lein. (By the way, Saigal singing this ghazal, it’s incomparable.)
The restoration of the judiciary should have brought with it some humility. It has had just the opposite effect, leading to an explosion of self-righteousness. The judicial wheel is about to turn. Let us see what awaits us when that is done.
Nisar also had another trick up his sleeve. He said a commission was to be set up to investigate the Asghar Khan case – relating to ISI money distributed to a long line of politicians in order to influence and steal the 1990 elections – elections which saw Benazir Bhutto comprehensively defeated. In that treasured list figure the names, among others, of Nawaz Sharif and talented brother Shahbaz. Only certified fools can think that the brothers or any of the others will be indicted. This is just the first step in another cover-up that will take care of the Asghar Khan case once and for all, consigning it to that limbo where dwell forgotten things.
And there are 20-year-old bank loans of which not a penny has been returned. No one will ever ask what’s happened to them. But we’ll continue to talk of justice and accountability.
But look at the sunny side of things. What if our problems are many and great? At least we have our talent for low and small cunning, and who one can take away that from us?”